Pub­lic health of­fi­cial urges pre­cau­tion against in­sect-borne dis­ease

Walker County Messenger - - Front Page - Ga. Dept. of Pub­lic Health

The com­bi­na­tion of warm weather, peo­ple get­ting out­side to en­joy it, and ris­ing in­sect pop­u­la­tions brings po­ten­tial for in­sect-borne dis­eases, also called vec­tor-borne dis­eases 1. The Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health North­west Health Dis­trict of­fers these pre­cau­tions, so res­i­dents can pro­tect them­selves, their fam­i­lies, neigh­bors, and pets.

“We en­cour­age our res­i­dents to get out­side and be ac­tive,” says Dr. Unini Odama, health di­rec­tor for the North­west Health Dis­trict, “but we don’t want the fun to end with a dis­ease that could have been pre­vented.

With warm weather and sum­mer travel rapidly ap­proach­ing, we are vul­ner­a­ble to dis­eases from both ticks and mos­qui­tos. Pro­tect­ing our­selves from these threats is im­por­tant.” Tick-borne Dis­eases Sev­eral va­ri­eties of ticks in North­west Ge­or­gia carry bac­te­ria that can be trans­mit­ted through a tick bite. It is im­por­tant to rec­og­nize these gen­eral symp­toms and seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion as soon as pos­si­ble: Fever and chills; Aches, pains, and fa­tigue, some­times joint pain; Rash, some­times in un­usual shapes like a “bull’s eye,” or spots that may ap­pear else­where on the body, or an ul­cer at the bite site;

Some peo­ple will not de­velop rashes, but most do;

Rashes can oc­cur within hours or up to 30 days af­ter the tick bite.

Pre­vent tick-borne dis­eases 1 by us­ing in­sect re­pel­lent, avoid get­ting off trails and roads, and check­ing your en­tire body for ticks as soon as pos­si­ble af­ter be­ing out­doors. Check chil­dren, gear, and pets thor­oughly. If you should find a tick at­tached to your skin, there’s no need to panic - the key is to re­move the tick as soon as pos­si­ble. Here’s what you need to know about tick re­moval 1.

More in-depth de­scrip­tions, pic­tures, and in­for­ma­tion about which types of ticks live in North­west Ge­or­gia can be found at cdc.gov/ticks 1. Mos­quito-borne Dis­eases Over­all, mos­quito-borne ill­nesses in Ge­or­gia are rare, but they do oc­cur. The great­est risk statewide is for West Nile virus 1, which can cause fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vom­it­ing, di­ar­rhea, or rash, and in rare cases even death.

Although the Zika virus 2 is cur­rently not es­tab­lished in our lo­cal area, two ma­jor con­cerns are con­tract­ing the ill­ness while trav­el­ing to an af­fected re­gion 1 of the world, and the risk to the un­born ba­bies of preg­nant women. The virus is known to cause birth de­fects such as mi­cro­cephaly 1, and also brain dam­age, seizures, or prob­lems with vi­sion and hear­ing.

Zika virus is also trans­mit­ted through sex­ual flu­ids for up to 8 weeks by in­fected women and up to 6 months by in­fected men. Con­doms should be worn dur­ing these time frames, even within monog­a­mous re­la­tion­ships. The virus can also cause Guil­lain-Barré Syn­drome 1 in any­one.

To pre­vent mos­quito bites 1, use in­sect re­pel­lent, wear cloth­ing that covers as much skin as pos­si­ble, and elim­i­nate stand­ing wa­ter on your prop­erty – Tip ‘n Toss 2. Par­a­sites While not a vec­tor-borne dis­ease, three in­testi­nal par­a­sites 1 found lo­cally that are of con­cern this time of year are Giar­dia 1, Cryp­tosporid­ium 1, and Cy­clospo­ri­a­sis 1.

Giar­dia may pro­duce vom­it­ing, chills, headache, or fever, while “Crypto” can cause watery di­ar­rhea, ab­dom­i­nal cramps, nau­sea, and headaches. Watery di­ar­rhea is the most com­mon symp­tom of Cy­clospo­ri­a­sis. All can be pre­vented by fil­ter­ing or boil­ing un­treated wa­ter and avoid get­ting un­treated wa­ter in your mouth and nose while swim­ming.

If you have symp­toms of any of these vec­tor­borne or par­a­sitic dis­eases, check with your health­care provider.

The Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health North­west Health Dis­trict works to track and pre­vent the spread of dis­ease; pro­mote health, safety, and well­be­ing through ed­u­ca­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion; and pre­pare for, re­spond to, and en­sure our com­mu­ni­ties are ready to han­dle pub­lic health emer­gen­cies.

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